Some uneasy as Central African Republic, rebels make peace

Central African Republic and 14 rebel groups signed a peace deal on Wednesday even as some expressed alarm about the possible suspension of prosecutions after five years of bloody conflict.

The agreement is the eighth since the fighting began in 2013 but the first to emerge from direct dialogue. The peace deal, negotiated in Sudan and known as the Khartoum Agreement, is said to incorporate representatives of armed groups in the government of one of the world’s poorest nations.

“Certain compatriots have thought that the republic has abandoned them. I want to say to you all that I will spare no effort to make Central African Republic our common home,” President Faustin Archange Touadera said at the signing in the capital, Bangui.

Yet few appeared to be optimistic about bringing rebels into the government while honoring the families of their victims. The fighting has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands and sent two people to the International Criminal Court.

“We are shocked because we see our authorities jubilant alongside our executioners,” Yannick Nalimo, a journalist and blogger, told The Associated Press. “It does not put anyone at ease. The people do not want these people, who put the country down and stripped us bare, to come back and manage the affairs of the state.”

Details of the peace deal have not been publicly released. Officials had said that would happen after the signing but Wednesday’s ceremony ended without it being read out in public.

Armed groups currently control around 80 percent of Central African Republic, and Touadera, in power since 2016, has struggled to stabilize the country as armed groups compete over lands rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.

The conflict began when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in Bangui. Largely Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back. Rebels continue to carry out deadly attacks on displaced people’s camps and other communities.

Brunon Hyacinthe Gbiegba, a human rights activist and observer at the peace talks, said he was most concerned with the fight against impunity. He took issue with a clause in the agreement that reportedly calls for the suspension of prosecutions of those accused of abuses during the conflict.

“Everyone is accountable for the actions they have taken,” Gbiegba told the AP, insisting on mandatory justice against perpetrators.

Two anti-Balaka leaders in recent months have been taken to the ICC but no Seleka fighters have been publicly targeted by the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

The African Union, which oversaw the negotiations that began on Jan. 24 in Khartoum, has expressed optimism. AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat commended the parties for their “commitment and spirit of compromise.”

The fighting has carried the high risk of genocide, the United Nations has warned. A 13,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission has acknowledged the challenges of protecting civilians.

The actions of armed groups have “inflicted too many civilian casualties, demonstrating an apparent contempt for human dignity, reconciliation and the right to development,” Marie-Therese Keïta-Bocoum, a U.N. human rights expert, said Friday.

Last year, the U.N.’s children agency released a grim report that said fighters often target civilians, attacking health facilities, schools, and religious buildings. More than one million people have been displaced.

The spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday called on neighboring countries and the international community to support the “courageous steps” that have been taken this week toward peace.

———

Associated Press writer Amelia Nierenberg in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

———

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa


Source link

more recommended stories

  • Australia confirms Wikileaks’ Assange has valid passport

    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has confirmed.

  • Syria Kurds evacuate civilians from IS redoubt, hail Trump troop reversal

    NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria/ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) –.

  • U.S. to leave 200 American peacekeepers in Syria after pullout

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States.

  • Algeria military plane crash kills two – ministry

    ALGIERS (Reuters) – An Algerian military.

  • Venezuela’s opposition ambassador takes control of embassy in Costa Rica

    SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition.

  • Trump ‘in no rush’ on North Korea denuclearisation as envoy heads to finalise summit plans

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Venezuela opposition must pass over our dead bodies to oust Maduro – minister

    Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.

  • Poland says still awaits Israel’s apology in Holocaust row

    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland is still.

  • Survey points to no rebound for slowing Germany economy

    An index of investor confidence in.

  • Nicaragua: Hefty prison terms for farm leaders in protests

    search2 Video Live Shows Good Morning.

  • Saudi minister assails Iran for blaming Riyadh in attack

    Senior Saudi diplomat assails Iran for.

  • Marco Rubio warns Venezuelan soldiers to let aid enter

    He says soldiers would commit a.

  • Fresh supplies of US aid arrive on Venezuela's border awaiting delivery into country

    Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has.

  • The Latest: Nigeria says vote delay not due to interference

    The Latest: Nigeria says last-minute vote.

  • India warns of 'crushing response' to Kashmir suicide attack

    India’s prime minister is warning of.

  • Across the Pond: Unrest in Haiti, climate strike, royal Valentine’s Day Video

    Now Playing: Anti-Trump protesters in Haiti.

  • Venezuelan prosecutor to investigate Guaido appointments

    Venezuela’s chief prosecutor says he’s launched.

  • Germany barely avoided recession in Q4 with zero growth

    Germany economic growth has stagnated in.

  • No exit: El Chapo likely off to 'Alcatraz of the Rockies'

    A 2-time escapee from Mexican prisons,.

  • Asian shares mostly higher on US-China trade deal optimism

    Asian shares are mostly higher, cheered.

  • NATO chief vows response to Russian missile pact violations

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the.

  • Brazil soccer club promises compensation for fire victims

    Brazilian soccer club Flamengo is promising.

  • Spain's courts put to test by trial of Catalan separatist

    Spain’s Supreme Court is bracing to.

  • Israel says woman's murder near Jerusalem 'nationalistic'

    Israel’s internal security agency says the.

  • Turkey urges China to respect Uighur rights, close camps

    Turkey has called China’s treatment of.

  • The Latest: Death toll in Turkish building collapse up to 18

    Turkey’s interior minister says authorities at.

  • People of the week: Afghanistan edition Video

    Transcript for People of the week:.

  • Top US envoy returns to South Korea after North Korea visit

    South Korean media say the top.

  • Brazil president shows symptoms ‘compatible’ with pneumonia

    search2 Video Live Shows Good Morning.

  • Maldives ex-president to be charged with money laundering

    Police in the Maldives have asked.

  • Vietnam site for 2nd Trump-Kim summit may bring wins for all

    Vietnam’s selection as the venue for.

  • Paris apartment fire kills 10, injures more than 30; arson suspected

    At least 10 people were killed.